Naples (city, Italy)

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Naples (city, Italy)

Naples, Ital. Napoli, city (1991 pop. 1,067,365), capital of Campania and of Naples prov., S central Italy, on the Bay of Naples, an arm of the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is a major seaport, with shipyards, and a commercial, industrial, and tourist center. Italy's third largest city, Naples is troubled by overpopulation, high unemployment, a low per capita income, a history of crime and corruption, and income inequalities. Manufactures include iron and steel, petroleum, textiles, food products, chemicals, electronics, porcelain ware, and machinery.

Points of Interest

Naples is beautifully situated at the base and on the slopes of the hills enclosing the Bay of Naples. The bay, dominated by Mt. Vesuvius, extends from Cape Misena in the north to the Sorrento peninsula in the south and is dotted with towns and villas. Near its entrance are the islands of Capri, Ischia, and Procida. Naples is a crowded and noisy city, famous for its songs, festivals, and gaiety. Especially interesting parts of the city are the Old Spacca Quarter (the heart of Old Naples) and the seaside Santa Lucia sector.

Noteworthy structures in Naples include the Castel Nuovo (1282); the Castel dell'Ovo (rebuilt by the Angevins in 1274); the Renaissance-style Palazzo Cuomo (late 15th cent.); the large Carthusian Monastery of St. Martin (remodeled in the 16th and 17th cent.); the neoclassic Villa Floridiana, which houses a museum of porcelain, china, and Neopolitan paintings; the Church of Santa Chiara (Gothic, with 18th-century baroque additions), which contains the tombs of Robert the Wise and other Angevin kings; the Cathedral of St. Januarius (14th cent., with numerous later additions, including a 17th-century baroque chapel); the Royal Palace (early 17th cent.); and the Church of Santa Maria Donna Regina. Beneath the city lies a network of tunnels and catacombs.

Naples has several museums including the National Museum, which holds the Farnese collection and most of the objects excavated at nearby Pompeii and Herculaneum; the picture gallery, housed in Capodimonte palace; a museum of contemporary art, and the aquarium. As a musical center Naples reached its greatest brilliance in the 17th and 18th cent.; Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti, Porpora, Pergolesi, Paisiello, and Cimarosa were among the representatives of the Neapolitan style. The Teatro San Carlo, a famous opera house, was opened in 1737. The city has a conservatory and several art academies. Near Naples is the Camaldulian Hermitage (founded 1585), from which there is an excellent view of the bay region.

History

An ancient Greek colony, Naples was mentioned as Parthenope, Palaepolis, and Neapolis. It was conquered (4th cent. BC) by the Romans, who favored it because of its Greek culture, its scenic beauty, and its baths. The Roman poet Vergil, who often stayed there, is buried nearby. In the 6th cent. AD Naples passed under Byzantine rule; in the 8th cent. it became an independent duchy. In 1139 the Norman Roger II added the duchy to the kingdom of Sicily. Emperor Frederick II embellished the city and founded its university (1224). The execution (1268) of Conradin left Charles of Anjou (Charles I) undisputed master of the kingdom. He transferred the capital from Palermo to Naples. After the Sicilian Vespers insurrection (1282), Sicily proper passed to the house of Aragón, and the Italian peninsula S of the Papal States became known as the kingdom of Naples (see separate article). Naples was its capital until it fell to Garibaldi and was annexed to the kingdom of Sardinia (1860). The city suffered severe damage in World War II.

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